Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Game Thirty-Five: Habs v. Hawks

So the Twitter world today sez that Budaj will get the starts against the Hawks tomorrow night.

Um ... gulp??

11:56 p.m. EST, Tuesday December 20: Here's a great post in response to banter that the Habs franchise could be well served by tanking for high picks. It's a philosophy full of folly, and an almost sure-fire path to ruin, with only great exception.

10:33 a.m. EST, game day: So Budaj is in, Weber and Emelin are healthy scratches (same lineup as against the Bruins).

First Period:

- A little housekeeping first, while this blog is but a little less than three months old, I'm getting some increasing traffic from - well, wherever it's coming from. To for those who have stopped and maybe made a return visit or two, thanks much! I hope my Habs insights have been ... well, insightful :)

- Jesus, what a national anthem. Hawks already off to a great start and we haven't even dropped the puck.

- The Hawks horsepower visibly 50 or more than ours. How can we reasonably hope to come out of this with a couple of points?

- Keeping an eye on Kostitsyn, coming off a pretty poor effort in Boston.

- Very fast pace so far, Hawks most of the chances so far but nothing spectacular.

- Budaj a little lucky, but pretty solid so far.

- Pretty decent first PP, much of it spent in Hawks' zone.

- Well, the boys held their own against the best team in the West. So that's good I suppose.

Second Period:

- Oh man, Budaj just robbed Kane point blank with a great save. He struggled in his last start while Habs were on the PK, so good test here.

- Unquestionably Cammalleri is one of the Habs' biggest disappointments this season and he's said he's trying to work on the basics, but his positioning is just ... way off. He never really seems to be where the puck is going, and struggles to generate high percentage chances.

- PP strikes again!! And it's Kostitsyn. Maybe should keep an eye on Cammelleri and see if that pans out :p

- Habs can't sit on this. They must maintain composure and game plan emphasizing cautious puck control and keeping turnovers limited (hopefully eliminated).

- Lame call on Blunden for the simple act of checking the puck handler. Official was looking for something that didn't exist.

- You just can't ever let your guard down. Subban a bit soft in front and Toews is allowed to penetrate the crease and tie it up.

- And just like that, in 21 seconds, the Hawks take the lead. This time Campoli flops too soon and Budaj double clutches on Sharp's wrister. Cunneyworth fuming.

- Pacioretty encapsulate the whole Habs season by shooting the puck 10 feet over a completely wide open net.

- Habs missing some glorious chances but I'll give 'em credit for not taking this laying down.

- Habs trailing, Hawks leading after 40. It's just one goal, but the odds are now pretty long because the Canadiens are quite simply one of the League's worst 3rd period teams.

Third Period:

- Budaj has been pretty good, certainly not the main reason why the Habs might lose tonight, but his puck handling abilities are pretty nerve-racking.

- Yes, a major part of Plekanec's responsibilities tonight has been in a checking roll, but he and his line have again been too invisible. Habs' hopes are basically left to the Desharnais line, and the Hawks know it.

- Still good chunk of time left, Habs must maintain guard over their net, commit no turnovers, and be patient (and take advantage of any rare opportunities).

- Nope. Soft zone coverage by Plekanec line and a stoppable shot by Stalberg eludes Budaj. Can't throw away these games by letting the opposition's fourth line score. Just can't.

- Again, he wasn't awful, but don't expect to see another start from Budaj anytime soon. I'm sure there will be plenty of criticism and second-guessing directed at Cunneyworth for not playing Price tonight and saving Budaj for the Jets tomorrow.

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